Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Matt North: Above Ground Fools [self-released, 2017]
North is a Nashville session drummer whose solo music is neither bro-country nor folk-rock. This is a rock album purely--loud, obvious, devoid of punk or funk. Big drums, efficient tunes, equal helpings of keyboard and guitar, and a muscular rather than burly voice all serve what is clearly the point for a 47-year-old who's also gotten paid as an actor and standup comic: the lyrics. A solid musician, this great-nephew of Kentucky local colorist Jesse Stuart is an absolutely first-rate better songwriter. If he's any kind of feminist you'd never know it, so be glad the one where the "damsel in shining armor" fails to rescue the "white knight in distress" compensates for the "Badgering the Witness" charges and "No Hard Feelings" g'bye. And be gladder that from the acid-etched local color of "A Good Day in Nashville" to the DIY bile of "Come Here Go Away," he serves up so much lyrical idiosyncrasy--topped for me by the nonstop "I Sold It All," where I understand the meaning of every line without being sure I know what the damn thing's about. A-